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Authors: Voila Grace

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Chasm

BOOK: Chasm
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Chasm

Razi has been digging into the past of the Alliance for years, but now that she has found the Oefric origin world, she has a problem. The world is disintegrating at an alarming rate so if they are going to find the origin of this species, they have to work quickly. Ailan and Eckhar are her assigned assistants and despite their being unfamiliar with dig sites, they have one other trait that irritates her, they claim that she is their own. A fall and interference from a determined AI change her attitudes toward her new mates in a way she cannot deny.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chasm

Copyright © 2011 Viola Grace

ISBN: 978-1-55487-915-1

Cover art by Martine Jardin                 

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

Published by eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.eXtasybooks.com

Chasm

A Terran Times Novella

By

Viola Grace

Chapter One

Razi Nelson fought to keep her excitement under control. The ancient ruins were crumbling, but they were recognizable.

She was on the Oefric origin world and if she didn’t hurry, it would be lost forever. She started her recorders, flicking them on around the huge expanse. When passing the doorway, she looked over at the two shuttles huddled side by side. Her companions hadn’t woken with the false dawn like she had, so she had the endless morning to keep her company.

Back on earth, she had loved history. Being an archaeologist in the Alliance was something that she had never dreamed of back home, but after she volunteered, her life changed.

She had a talent for the old and ancient, her mind fairly hummed when she got close to a new discovery.

Finding the hidden files in the depths of an ancient ship’s navigation log had caused a stir in the Oefric community. While she was allowed to go on the first exploratory mission to the world depicted in the files, she had to bring two Oefric scientists with her.

Ailan Dar and Eckhar Minkoss were not her idea of scientists. No nerd back on earth had ever sent her heart pounding in her chest, nor had they ever looked like they could have played football. These two were the standard Oefric height, well over six feet tall, and while they were of different families, both had inky black hair.

Razi smiled and bustled about, her recorders scanning and catching every inch of the remains of the great hall. Dawn would come soon enough and with it, her new companions would rise, stretch and she would start drooling. She had heard from other Terrans that the right Oefric at close range was irresistible and she was beginning to suspect that they knew what they were talking about.

With her machines scanning away, she returned to her shuttle for the matter of a late breakfast. She assembled her meal, put it on a tray and took a seat on her makeshift porch. The steps to her shuttle made a comfortable chair and she watched the morning caress the mountains of the dead world. Haskar would have been a lovely world if it had still been living and thriving, but now, shifts in gravity were pulling it apart and creating a new surface by destroying the old.

This world had been reshaping itself for a thousand years and its transformation was the reason that the Oefric had left. The origin of their species was a past fogged in time. This was the last opportunity to see the dim remains of a fantastic evolution.

She looked over at the other shuttle, so sleek and elegant compared to the serviceable lines of her own, and smiled. The origin of their civilization was all around them and they were sleeping through it.

Razi was done and watching her scanning bots work their way through the site by the time their shuttle opened and they wandered out with breakfast in their hands. They had trousers on this morning that was a nice yet depressing change.

“Morning, Ailan, Eckhar. The scanners are doing their work and the bots are taking measurements.” She brushed crumbs off her suit as they admired the sunrise.

Ailan finally took in the bots that were quietly chortling and moving around the site. “How long have you been up, Razi?”

“A few hours. I just couldn’t sleep, so I got to work.” Razi smiled at him.

“You should have woken us.” Eckhar held his beverage in one hand while scrubbing his face with the other.

She chuckled. “Why should you lose sleep just because I am an insomniac?”

“The ruins won’t last long. We need to examine every inch of it before the planet takes it back.” Ailan leaned against her ship and sipped at his tea.

“That is why I started the exam bots and the recorders.” She lifted her data pad and tried to ignore the naked torso within arm’s reach.

The Oefric bred for intelligence and skill as well as beauty, but their stunning looks tended to be the overwhelmingly noticeable trait. By Terran standards, they were too good looking for any human woman’s hormones. She had no idea what Terran men thought of Oefric women, but the few females she had seen were definite stunners.

Eckhar nodded. “We will get to work then. May I add that you are looking lovely this morning?” His bright green eyes twinkled with mischief.

Ailan cleared his throat. “I concur. Your hair gleams in the light of dawn.”

Razi smiled, fighting a laugh. “You are both prettier than I am and you are aware of it. Just let me put this dish away and we can start decoding the remains of the signage.”

She stood and returned to the interior of her shuttle, setting the dish cycle to clean. The data was already streaming into her devices and her early start was paying off.

Basic training in the Alliance had given her the basics of interspecies mating habits, but even with the reproductive clause in her contract, she had never expected to be on the receiving end of a courtship. It had never occurred to her that the Alliance would enforce the requirement that Terrans find matches in the handful of compatible species.

The Oefric that were here with her were prospects, chosen from over a hundred candidates, several of whom were of the Oefric species. They were just the best matches out of the bunch.

Eckhar was a historian, Ailan an anthropologist, both of which were complementary to her Alliance training as an archaeologist. It was a good match on paper, but she still wasn’t keen on the idea of taking two men as spouses.

The day before yesterday they had met for the first time when they landed. Yesterday had been a planning and settling-in day, she was staying in her shuttle, they in theirs. Today would be their first day working together.

Razi smiled and when all was set and put away, she returned to her companions.

“Okay, shall we get what we came for and preserve what we can?”

“You might be able to get what you came for…” Eckhar started, but Ailan covered his mouth with one hand.

Ailan grinned. “Yes, let’s get to work.”

Eyeing them suspiciously, Razi grabbed her equipment and entered the ruins, starting near the great crevice that was threatening the structure.

She was into her notes for two hours before she looked around for them. Ailan was within earshot. “How did your people realize that their world was going to shift?”

“Our animal forms are very sensitive to alterations in electromagnetic currents. When they had enough information, it was decided that evacuating was the best option.” He came closer as he spoke.

“I see. I am guessing that there aren’t many records from back then.”

He chuckled and sat next to her. “Not really. In a thousand years, most records turn into myth. We are as eager for this information as you are. We have no idea what really happened or how we came to our new home world.”

She chuckled. “That must suck.”

His grin was engaging and she spent a little too long on watching the chiselled plane of his jaw and the clear cut of his lips. He winked as he caught her looking.

“Sorry. I can’t help it. I haven’t been this close to one of your species before.”

“Ask anything that comes into your thoughts.” Ailan gave her a wicked grin.

She laughed and asked the question just as Eckhar came running toward them. “Fine. Are you allergic to wearing shirts or is it just your audience?”

Ailan barked a laugh and was going to answer when the ground shifted under her and a harsh rumbling took over her senses.

She stood and turned to run, but before she took three steps, the floor under her feet gave way and she was falling. Hoarse shouts from the surface followed her while she flipped end over end and collided with the walls.

Chapter Two

The air was stale and dusty, her arm was throbbing as well as one of her legs and she wanted to be back in her shuttle and under the covers. Her head was pounding with her pulse and the coppery smell of her own blood was starting to take over everything.

She heard the shrieking of birds and two large black ravens swirled over her head before landing at her side. The birds were huge, but the men they transformed into were blessedly familiar.

“Stay still, Razi.” Ailan was on her left and examining her limbs.

“Will do.” The words came out on a groan as his hands found the break in her arm.

Eckhar grinned down at her with a worried tension around his lips. “You are going to kick yourself when you wake up, Razi.”

She gritted her teeth and a high-pitched whine broke free. “Why?”

“You have found the design centre.”

Her focus gained immediate clarity that distracted her from Ailan’s hands on her leg straightening the limb. “The what?”

“Oefric are a designed race. We know it, but have never been able to find our originating lab. Guess where we are right now?”

Eckhar was doing an excellent job of distracting her. She tried to move her head and Ailan barked, “Stay still. Doctor’s orders.”

She stilled. “I thought you were an anthropologist.”

Both of them chuckled. “A necessary fiction. Our government did not think you would respond well to a doctor and an enforcer courting you.”

She smiled, but the throbbing in her head became deafening. When he pulled her leg straight, blackness rushed toward her and swallowed her whole.

A peculiar trilling accompanied her return to the world. When she tried moving her fingers with a slow and careful attention, the sound stopped.

“So, you have rejoined us. Ailan will be happy. He nearly tore his hair out trying to get this old medical equipment running, but he did and here you are.” Eckhar lifted the hand with the wiggling fingers and pressed a kiss to her knuckles.

She stared at the forearm where she was sure bone had pierced flesh. “There is repair equipment here?”

Ailan entered the small bright room. “Yes. Antiques, but they still work if you splice components together with regular communicators and curse a lot.”

“The cursing is an integral component I am sure.” Razi shifted her legs. While the previously broken leg ached, it felt almost normal compared to the remembered agony. “How fixed am I?”

“A few weeks of light walking and you will be able to drop into chasms again. You are lucky to have survived.” Ailan was checking her palms and the surprisingly intact boots. “How is it that your shoes survived?”

She chuckled and struggled to sit up. They quickly reached to help her get into an upright posture. “Masuo. I have a friend stationed on Morganti and it just grows wild there.”

“You have a friend in the Sector Guard?”

“I have friends everywhere. It is one of the bonuses to a travelling lifestyle. I have been on over twenty worlds, many of which had a representative from my own species posted there. We get around.”

She chuckled and sent a signal to the Masuo. The living boots stretched upward and formed a rigid cast around her calves, up to the knees. Her bones were not going anywhere.

“Too bad they didn’t do that on the way down.” Eckhar was watching her legs as the living pods settled into place.

“They did, or there would have been far more damage. I clawed at the walls and dug in with my feet to slow myself. It worked. I should have been dead.”

Razi wiggled her feet off the edge of the bed she was sitting on and with their help once again, she lifted herself to a standing position. “Where are we exactly?”

Ailan supported her as she took a few steps. “We appear to be in the underground labs where our shapeshifting abilities were opened wide.”

BOOK: Chasm
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